The Colonial Pipeline Cyber Crisis

Map of the impacted states along the colonial pipeline

May 13th, 2021- 4 minute read

The Colonial Pipeline, the largest supplier of refined oil products in the United States, has found itself at the center of a major ransomware attack, forcing it to shut down over the weekend.

Here is what we know right now

  • According to the official website and other published reports, Colonial Pipeline provides roughly 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast.
  • A number of sources, including veteran energy analyst Amy Myers Jaffe,  the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure known in the US.
  • Fuel shortages and hiked gas prices have forced a State-of-Emergency across 17 states in the Southeastern region of the country, alongside the already pressing global COVID-19 pandemic.
  • What initially looked like an act of malice is now revealed to be a very “normal” cybercrime using a readymade “ransomware as a service” provider known as DarkSide – who even issued an apology for the attack.
    • In a statement from Darkside, they stated “Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society,” said the group in a statement on the dark web. “From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences.”
  • Though the pipeline has begun reopening, the Biden Administration still has concerns, even after issuing an executive order earlier today to strengthen cybersecurity standards.

This unprecedented attack has opened the door for even greater implications for “unknowing” cyberattacks. While ransomware is not a new act, the results have hardly been this severe. Its hard to tell when full-service will be restored, or what the larger impacts of this attack will be, but in the meantime, we will keep an eye on the Federal government’s response to ensure that this cannot happen again in the future.

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